What is an R visa?

An R-1 is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by: (1) A non-profit religious organization in the United States; (2) A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or (3) A non-profit religious organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

What is an O visa?

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

What is an P3 visa?

The P-3 classification applies to you if you are coming temporarily to perform, teach or coach as artists or entertainers, individually or as part of a group, under a program that is culturally unique.

For a P-3 visa, you must be coming to the United States either individually or as a group for the purpose of developing, interpreting, representing, coaching, or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. In addition, you must be coming to the United States to participate in a cultural event or events which will further the understanding or development of your art form. The program may be of a commercial or non-commercial nature.

What is an P1 visa?

The P-1 classification applies to you if you are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance. An individual athlete must be coming to the United States to participate in individual event, competition or performance in which you are internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country. An athletic team must be coming to the United States to participate in team events and must have achieved significant international recognition in the sport. The event in which your team is participating must be distinguished and require the participation of athletic teams of international recognition. The support staff can also come in as P1 visas.

What is an L visa?

The L-1A intracompany executive transferee classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.  This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

The L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.  This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.

What is an H-1B visa? Can I get a green card with it?

An H-1B visa applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability. The position for which the petitioner petitions the beneficiary must require a four-year degree, and the beneficiary must have a four-year degree or its equivalent. There is a quota every year which begins on April 1 for first-time applications. The quota has been met on the first or second day, almost every year in the recent past.

What is an immigrant visa?

It is a visa which either through family petition or employer petition, the foreign national gets a green card. Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There are also 5 separate employment-based immigrant visa categories: (1) Priority Workers (EB-1); (2) Professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability (EB-2); (3) Skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers (other workers) (EB-3); (4) Certain special immigrants (EB-4); and (5) Immigrant Investors (EB-5).

What is a non-immigrant visa?

Simply put, a non-immigrant visa is the type of visa which allows a foreign national to visit, work, study in the U.S. but does not get a green card. An alien who seeks temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose. The alien must have a permanent residence abroad (for most classes of admission) and qualify for the nonimmigrant classification sought. The nonimmigrant classifications include: foreign government officials, visitors for business and for pleasure, aliens in transit through the United States, treaty traders and investors, students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, representatives of foreign information media, exchange visitors, fiance(e)s of U.S. citizens, intracompany transferees, NATO officials, religious workers, and some others. Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

What is the difference between a visa and a status?

A visa is a stamp or sticker that is placed in your passport and is used only to seek entry into the U.S. When someone wishes to come to the U.S. temporarily (whether for a number of weeks as in the case of a tourist or a number of years as in the case of an H-1B worker), he or she must obtain a visa, or ‘entry visa’. Visitors must apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate outside of the U.S.  The application includes specific documents that show you are qualified to apply for a specific type of visa (such as an I-20, in the case of F-1). However, the only act to which the visa entitles the visa holder is to travel to a U.S. port of entry and ask to be admitted to the U.S. The inspector at the port of entry, upon examining the visitor’s documents, will decide whether or not they may enter the U.S. If the inspector does admit the individual into the U.S., this admission confers status to the visa holder. At the same time, the visa becomes insignificant.

Status, on the other hand, refers to the set of rights of responsibilities an individual has toward the government. In immigration terms, status is the legal category under which the visitor was admitted to the U.S. The categories are often associated with certain letters (e.g. F-1, J-2, H-1B, A2, etc) and each category has different circumstances under which it can be granted, as well as different governing regulations, responsibilities, and benefits. For example, a visitor may enter on an visitor’s visa, B visa, and change his/her status to that of a student (F-1). In such a case, the B visa (stamp) is no longer valid, and the person is here in the U.S. in the Student (F-1) status.

Do I have to get an attorney in my state only?

No, Immigration Law is federal, so I can represent anyone in the U.S. I have represented many out-of-State or out-of-country individuals. I can collect necessary documents and obtain signatures through the Internet or via mail.

Do you charge for the initial consultation?

Our attorneys have different policies regarding charging for initial consultations. We invite you to inquire of us individually for details regarding this.

How do you charge the fees for immigration services?

Typically, I charge flat fees for straight-forward cases; however, when there are complications and it is hard to estimate time to be spent.

Are there any special problems in selling a business to children of the owner?

Yes. There is an entire section of the Internal Revenue Code referred to as the “family attribution rules” that can be a major trap for family-held businesses. The IRS doesn’t want the parents to do something really advantageous for their kids. Ask an experienced tax advisor to help you structure the deal. Be prepared in advance with the records/documentation to defend your sale price years later; a Certified Business Appraiser or a CPA with valuation credentials can prepare you for this up-front. If the buyer group contains at least one non-family member for a truly arms-length deal, that will be a tremendous help if the valuation is ever challenged.

Can a seller adequately secure payment of the purchase price?

Probably. First, he’ll usually require that the owner of the buyer corporation to personally guarantee payment of buyer corporation’s Note to the seller. Second, seller will ordinarily receive a recorded UCC lien against all of the assets being sold. Third, seller might receive a possessory pledge of all of the stock of the buyer corporation (not a great remedy if the buyer company fails). In this author’s experience, the percentage of failures of acquired businesses is very low if properly structured up-front.

Is it best to sell my company for all-cash at closing, or get a cash down payment and carry the balance on a promissory Note over a number of years?

The price for an all-cash deal might be a little lower; but payment terms are generally more critical than the price. With all-cash, seller must pay capital gains tax off the top, then wonder what to do with the rest of the money. If sold on terms, seller might earn a high interest rate on the pre-tax Note balance over a number of years. Common terms might be 20% cash down, and say 7 years on the Note (7 years is usually long enough for the company to “pay for itself” out of earnings).

How do a seller and buyer of a company make best use of a “terms sheet” or “letter of intent”?

These non-binding memoranda can be extremely useful in “clarifying expectations” of both parties in a non-threatening format before spending a lot of money on legal documents that might otherwise incorrectly structure the sale.

In a sale of an incorporated business, is it better to (i) sell all the stock of the corporation, or (ii) instead sell the assets out of the corporation?

Consult your tax advisor. If it has been a Subchapter “S” or “pass-through” corporation for more than 5 years or since its inception, then an asset sale will usually be most advantageous format since it limits the buyer’s liability for prior acts of the company, and the buyer can also write-off those assets (which must however be painfully re-captured someday when they are re-sold). A purchase of stock cannot be written off by the buyer (but avoids that re-capture event someday when re-sold), and comes with all the good, bad and ugly actions of the corporation in the past. A stock sale might be more convenient if the corporation has critical contracts that will come along with it, and not have to be re-signed with those customers or vendors.

Do I need a majority of the stock to control a corporation?

Not necessarily. If there is no shareholders agreement, then a simple majority will have almost unilateral control. However, with a shareholders agreement, the parties can apportion control of the Board of Directors between them, and therefore allocate control of the corporation. For example, a 1% shareholder could be guaranteed the right to appoint the only Director on the Board, and thereby gain autocratic control of all issues not specifically listed as being outside of his/her control.

Are non-compete agreements enforceable in Washington?

Yes, and they have entrapped many an employee who didn’t realize at the time of signing how powerful those restrictive covenants might be years later. In order to be enforceable, they must be “reasonable” in all respects, and be executed in a timely manner and with legally sufficient consideration given to the employee upon signing. If signed at the beginning of employment, usually no payment to the employee is required. If signed years later, the employee must receive “fresh” and reasonably sufficient consideration (such as a cash payment) in exchange for becoming bound by its constraints.

What’s the difference between an LLC and a corporation?

The primary consideration with each is the “veil of protection” they provide between the potentially injurious actions of the company, and the personal assets of the owners; and both these entities provide the same level of protection there. Corporations are a little more “familiar looking” to most people, and more readily understood, but require a little more maintenance. LLCs are more flexible than corporations, and particularly good for “hooking together” related companies; require virtually no maintenance, but the initial operating agreement can be complex and quite daunting to read and understand for someone not used to them.

How can I hold down the amount I am charged?

Be succinct and focused in your discussions with your attorney.  Prior to coming to our office, make copies of and organize file documents and correspondence for our review and use.  While scanning in and e-mailing us documents may be necessary because of time deadlines, consider dropping off or mailing us copies of voluminous documents.  Follow our instructions carefully.

Do you accept credit card payments? Which cards?

Yes.  While we prefer to receive checks or cash, we can also receive payments via VISA & MasterCard.  Please call our bookkeeper, Sandy, at extension 5 to pay by card.

Can I get directions to your office?

Please find directions at the following link: Directions. Should you need assistance finding us, please do not hesitate to give us a call.

What are your office hours?

Our office is generally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.  We are flexible, however, if you need to meet outside of those hours.

Is parking at your office free?

Yes.  Parking here is free and easily accessible.

How do you charge for your services?

Attorneys provide you with their knowledge, experience and sound judgment.  While our firm bills for most of our services at our hourly rates, we also handle some matters for a flat fee or contingency fee.

How do I find the best attorney for my needs?

Ask friends and family who have had similar legal issues whom they used and if they were pleased with the representation provided.  Research prospective attorneys by looking at their firms’ websites, the Washington Bar Association’s website (www.wsba.org) and www.avvo.com.  Interview prospective counsel in person to ensure a good fit.

How often will I receive an update on the status of my case?

We frequently communicate with attorneys for an opposing side by e-mail or correspondence.  We are diligent about promptly forwarding them to you to enable you to remain abreast of recent developments.

How quickly should I respond to a lawsuit?

If you are served with a lawsuit, you should promptly seek to retain the services of an attorney.

Should I try to evade being served with a lawsuit?

Trying to avoid a process server who seeks to deliver a lawsuit to you generally does not benefit you.  Should you wish to avoid having a stranger come to your residence to serve papers on you, you can authorize us to accept service on your behalf.

Do you represent plaintiffs or defendants?

We represent both.  While the ratio fluctuates, the split for our firm is often approximately 50/50.

What are my chances of winning?

To the consternation of many, it is often difficult to quantify a party’s chances of winning because of the many variables involved.  We tell you, however, whether we believe you have a strong or weak position.

Does the court read everything filed in a case?

No.   While court files are a matter of public record, judges generally do not monitor cases by reading newly filed documents (known as pleadings).  Generally, judges only read documents filed when a motion or trial is pending before them and, then, only those pleadings which the attorneys call to their attention.

Can we get a frivolous lawsuit dismissed quickly?

It is difficult, but not impossible, to get cases dismissed quickly and summarily.  Judges like to give everyone “their day in court.”

How much will my case cost?

Because the amount of time needed to properly prepare your case can vary significantly, it is often difficult to determine how much it will cost to pursue or defend.

What is discovery?

This is a tool by which each party in a lawsuit is able to discover the facts, documents and positions which the other party holds.  Discovery often is written in the form of interrogatories and document requests and oral in the form of depositions.

Do all attorneys go to court?

No.  Many attorney never step a foot into the courthouse.  Litigation attorneys, such as Mr. Vander Wel and Mr. Yoke, however, appear before the courts frequently.

Will I recover my attorney fees at the end of my case?

In Washington, we are generally under the American rule in which a prevailing party will only recover attorney’s fees incurred if a statute or a contractual provision authorizes such an award.  It is rare for a judge to find a party’s position is frivolous, warranting an award attorney’s fees

What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?

An arbitrator will make a decision in an arbitration and it is a more formal process held in a single room.  Rather than deciding the parties’ dispute, a mediator will only facilitate negotiations and settlement discussions between the parties who often sit in separate rooms with their attorneys.

What similarities exist between arbitration and mediation?

Arbitration and mediation are methods to resolve disputes out of court, often using former judges.  We often use two organizations in Seattle which provide both.  In contrast to cases in court, you will need to pay for the services of the arbitrator or mediator.

What is Family-Based Fourth Preference?

Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

What is Family-Based Third Preference?

Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens

What is Family-Based Second Preference?

Spouses or unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents (green card holders) (2A) or Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents (2B)

What is Family-Based First-Preference?

Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means 21 or older.)

What are the family-based preferences and quota?

Preference categories apply to family members who are not immediate relatives. The visas allotted for these categories are subject to annual numerical limits. A visa becomes available to a preference category based on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed).

What is an Immediate Relative Petition?

If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) based on your family relationship if you meet certain eligibility requirements. You are an immediate relative if you are:

The spouse of a U.S. citizen;

The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or

The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older).

What is a family-based immigrant visa petition?

U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents may petition for certain relatives.  Visas are always available for immediate relatives (Spouses, children (unmarried and under 21) and parents of U.S. citizens. This means the immediate relatives do need to wait in line for a visa. Preference categories apply to family members who are not immediate relatives. The visas allotted for these categories are subject to annual numerical limits. A visa becomes available to a preference category based on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed).

What kind of visa is available for a Taekwondo master?

If the alien has international acclaim as a Taekwondo athlete, s/he may apply for an O visa or a P1 visa. If the alien has a bachelor’s degree, and has an employer seeking a Taekwondo School Director with a bachelor’s degree, s/he may apply for an H1B visa. If the focus of the alien is more on Taekwondo demonstration/dance/performance, s/he may apply for a P3 visa.

What is EB-5 visa?

USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they: (1)   Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and (2) Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive. Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

The investor may file I-526 on his/her behalf with supporting documents.

Once the I-526 is approved, the investor and his/her family may adjust status or consular process depending on whether the alien and his/her family is/are in the U.S. or abroad and obtain two year temporary green cards.

After two years, the investor must file I-829 to remove the conditions. Once the I-829 has been approved, the investor and his/her family will have permanent legal resident statuses.

The alien must also show that he or she “sustained the actions required for removal of the conditions” during his or her residence in the United States. An alien entrepreneur will have met this requirement if he or she has “substantially met” the capital investment requirement and has continuously maintained this investment during the conditional residence period. The entrepreneur’s residence may be terminated at the end of the two-year period or earlier if it is found that the business was not established, or was established solely to evade immigration laws or that the requirements were otherwise violated. If, in the application to removed conditions, the alien demonstrates that the business was established, that the required amount of capital was invested, and that ten full-time jobs either have been or will be created, the conditions will be removed and the alien granted full permanent residence.

What is EB-4 visa?

You may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa if you are a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa:  Religious Workers; Special Immigrant Juveniles; Broadcasters; G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees and Their Family Members; International Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad; Armed Forces Members;     Panama Canal Zone Employees; Certain Physicians; Afghan and Iraqi Translators; and Afghan and Iraqi Nationals Who Have Provided Faith Service in Support of U.S. Operations.

What is “Prevailing Wage Determination”?

The prevailing wage determination (ETA Form 9141) is in place to ensure employers pay their employees the minimum wage for that particular job. The organization responsible for determining this, National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC) bases its determinations on data gathered throughout the United States. In order to make this determination, the NPWC aligns the job offered with the geographic region and skill level required for the position as well as education and required supervision.  You start the PERM process by getting the prevailing wage determination.

What is PERM?

PERM stands for Program Electronic Review Management. It is an electronic form  (ETA 9089) filed with Department of Labor after a recruitment process according to the different categories of EB3.

What is an EB-3 visa?

You may be eligible for this immigrant visa preference category if you are a skilled worker, professional, or other worker.

“Skilled workers” are persons whose job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

“Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent and are a member of the professions.

The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

The individuals applying for EB-3 visas must have employment offers, and the employer must go through PERM (Labor Certification) process. Once the position has been certified, your employer (petitioner) must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. As part of the application process, your employer must be able to demonstrate an ability to pay the offered wage as of your visa priority date. Your employer may use an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement to demonstrate an ability to pay your wage.

What is EB-2 National Interest Waiver sub-category?

Aliens seeking a national interest waiver are requesting that the Labor Certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States. Though the jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by statute, national interest waivers are usually granted to those who have exceptional ability (see above) and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation. Those seeking a national interest waiver may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them) and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with their Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.

What is an EB-2 Advanced Degree sub-category?

The job you apply for must require an advanced degree and you must possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years progressive work experience in the field). What is EB-2 Exceptional Ability sub-category?

You must be able to show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

What is an EB-2 visa?

You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability.

What is EB-1 multinational manager or executive sub-category?

You must have been employed outside the United States in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a firm or corporation and you must be seeking to enter the United States to continue service to that firm or organization. Your employment must have been outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity and with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer. Your employer must file the petition on your behalf.

What is EB-1 Outstanding Professors or Researchers sub-category?

You must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. You must have at least 3 years-experience in teaching or research in that academic area. You must be entering the United States in order to pursue tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. Your employer must file the petition on your behalf.

What is EB-1 Extraordinary Ability sub-category?

You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required, and you can self-petition.

What is an EB1 visa?

You may be eligible for an employment-based, first-preference visa if you have an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager. You do not have to do the PERM process or Labor Certification Process if you qualify as one of the three.